HMRC announced on 17 May 2023 that it will be closing its VAT registration helpline on 22 May 2023. According to HMRC, this is to redirect resources to processing applications and moving to a digital way of communicating.
The processing time for VAT applications is currently 40 days, however, business owners are having to chase some of these up to three months after submitting their application.
Once the helpline has closed, if taxpayers and agents haven’t received a reply within 40 days, they will have to email enquiries via email@example.com. HMRC will respond within five working days.
Only 18 months ago, applications were being processed within two weeks. Hopefully, this reallocated resource will help HMRC return to this time frame.
What does this mean for companies and the self-employed?
Business owners should look to their accountants for support, not only with processing the VAT application but also chasing this up when it falls outside the 40-day service level agreement (SLA).
But this isn’t all down to HMRC’s wait times. Common errors on a VAT application can also cause some delays. By using an accountant, you can help prevent some of these and could speed up the progress of your application. And make sure you’re applying online, than by post!
Before you submit, make sure to check:
The address is correct on the application per the business’s principal place of business
The correct signatory is used
The bank details are correct
Dates are checked against the circumstances outlined in the form
Notification of trade classification corresponds to the nature of the business
Having an accountant for support through the application and process of chasing this up when it goes past the 40 days will give you the time and headspace back to focus on growing your business instead. Most accountants include VAT registration as a part of their normal services and do not charge extra for it.
Accountants and business owners may not find the closure of the helpline makes a lot of difference. HMRC’s call hold times have always been notoriously long and they’re often unable to provide any clear guidance. Moving to emailing queries at least allows for an audit trail that the client can be CC’d in when their accountant is chasing up for them.
You can find out more about Orange Genie Accountancy here.